Academic regulation I-14 - Academic fraud

14 Academic fraud

(Approved by the Senate on November 25, 2019 and effective immediately)

REGULATION ON ACADEMIC FRAUD

Preamble

Academic integrity is a fundamental value at the core of all academic activities. The regulation on academic fraud defines the acts that can compromise academic integrity and outlines the various sanctions and consequences of such acts, and the procedures for handling allegations and setting sanctions. Further information on academic integrity is available on the website of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs .

The University of Ottawa has three processes in place for handling cases of academic fraud —the pedagogical approach, the accelerated process and the regular process. In all cases, academic fraud allegations should be treated with a view of providing students with a learning opportunity.

The University is committed to upholding the integrity of the process for handling academic fraud (PDF). Disclosure of the identity of any student accused of academic fraud or the person(s) alleging academic fraud is limited by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). Only the results of the investigation can be disclosed to the person who submitted an allegation of academic fraud.

Definition

1. Any act by a student that may result in a distorted academic evaluation for that student or another student. Academic fraud includes but is not limited to activities such as:

a) plagiarising or cheating in any way;

b) submitting work not partially or fully the student’s own, excluding properly cited quotations and references. Such work includes assignments, essays, tests, exams, research reports and theses, regardless of whether the work is in written, oral or any other form;

c) presenting research data that are forged, falsified or fabricated in any manner.

d) attributing a statement of fact or reference to a fabricated source;

e) submitting the same work or a significant part of the same piece of work in more than one course, or a thesis or any other piece of work submitted elsewhere without the prior approval of the appropriate professors or academic units;

f) falsifying or misrepresenting an academic evaluation, using a forged or altered supporting document or facilitating the use of such a document;

g) taking any action aimed at falsifying an academic evaluation.

Sanctions

2. Subject to the provisions regarding the pedagogical approach set out in section 4, students who commit or attempt to commit academic fraud, or who are a party to academic fraud, are subject to one or more of the sanctions below. All sanctions are effective immediately, notwithstanding an appeal. If a student withdraws from a course to which an allegation of fraud relates, the University may re-register the student in the course in question.

Sanctions stipulated in sections 2(a) to 2(f) inclusively, are imposed by the faculty offering the course. Sanctions should be accompanied by a follow-up mechanism, such as mandatory meetings with appropriate persons or services, e.g. the mentoring centre, the Academic Writing Help Centre (AWHC), etc.

a)     a written warning;

b)     zero for part of the work in question;

c)     zero for the work in question;

d)     zero for the work in question and the loss of additional marks for the course in question;

e)     zero for the work in question, with a final grade no higher than the passing grade for the course in question;

f)    an F or NS grade for the course in question.

Sanctions stipulated in sections 2(g) to 2(i) inclusively are imposed by the faculty offering the course, after consulting with the student’s home faculty.

g)      the addition of another 3 to 30 units to the student’s program requirements or to the requirements of any program at the same level in which the student subsequently registers. 

h)     suspension of a University of Ottawa or faculty scholarship for a specified period; 

i)      the loss of any faculty or University scholarship opportunity;

Sanctions stipulated in sections 2(j) to 2(m) inclusively are imposed by the Senate Appeals Committee upon recommendation of the student’s home faculty. The decision of the Senate Appeals Committee takes effect immediately.

j)     suspension from the University for a maximum of two years. No course taken at the University of Ottawa or elsewhere during the suspension period will be recognized by the University and no tuition fees will be refunded. Once the suspension ends, the student can re-register in the program and is subject to the program requirements in place at that time.

k)    inclusion of a permanent statement on the student’s official transcript: Sanction pursuant to contravention of the University regulation on fraud.

l)     expulsion from the University of Ottawa and permanent statement on the student’s official transcript indicating the student was expelled from the University for committing academic fraud. Three years following the date of expulsion, the student is eligible to make a request to the Senate Appeals Committee to have the expulsion set aside, including the possibility, where applicable, of having the mention removed from the student’s transcript. If the student reapplies to the University of Ottawa, the regular admission process applies.

m)    cancellation or revocation of a degree, diploma or certificate conferred prior to the University becoming aware of academic fraud.

Procedures

Pedagogical Approach

Note: This approach applies to undergraduate studies only.

The range of possible responses to academic fraud can be pedagogical as well as disciplinary. Students facing a first allegation of academic fraud may benefit from an approach focused on learning methods and strategies to help them avoid academic fraud in the future.

3. A professor who suspects a student of having committed academic fraud, as part of an individual or group assignment, that he or she deems minor (in case of doubt, the professor may consult the dean or dean’s representative), may choose to address the matter using a pedagogical approach. In this case, the professor communicates his or her decision to the student within five (5) working days from the day he or she informs the student in writing of the allegation.

Depending on the nature of the case, a professor may determine that it be referred to the dean or dean’s representative who will handle it following the accelerated or regular process (see Disciplinary Approach).

4. As part of the pedagogical approach, the professor may impose one or more of the following sanctions:

  • Give a written warning.
  • Ask the student to participate in an AWHC workshop or another workshop on academic integrity. In this case, the student must provide proof of participation in the workshop.
  • Redo the assignment correctly.
  • Lower a work’s grade up to a maximum of 10% of the final course grade.

e)  Any other measure considered appropriate for the circumstances.

5. The procedure for handling an academic fraud allegation using the pedagogical approach involves five steps:

  • The professor contacts the office of the vice-dean or vice-dean’s representative to confirm that this is the student’s first academic fraud allegation; otherwise, the case must be handled using the regular process.
  • The professor contacts the student to discuss the allegation to better understand the reasons that led to fraud and determine the most appropriate sanction.
  • Using the template provided, the professor informs the student of the sanction, as well as of the right to appeal. The professor also informs the vice-dean or vice-dean’s representative and the faculty’s Undergraduate Studies Office. The sanction is also recorded on the student’s working transcript, which is different than the official transcript.
  • The student accepts or appeals the sanction. If the sanction is appealed, the case will proceed using the disciplinary approach.
  • To appeal the sanction, the student must submit a written request to the office of the vice-dean or vice-dean’s representative of the faculty that offers the course, within five (5) working days of receiving the professor’s decision.

Disciplinary Approach

6. Allegations of fraud must be submitted in writing with supporting documentation, to the dean of the faculty offering the course in question or the dean’s representative.

7. When the allegation of fraud involves several students from different faculties, the case is submitted to the faculty that offers the course, in accordance with the procedure set out in this regulation. 

8. Cases involving more than one student registered in a course offered by more than one faculty, including courses offered at both undergraduate and graduate level (cross-listed courses), are submitted to the deans or their representatives responsible for the courses in question.

9. Within ten (10) working days of receiving an allegation of academic fraud, the dean or the dean’s representative decides whether there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the allegation is founded and begin the process. The dean or the dean’s representative:

a) informs the student in writing of the allegation made and provides a copy of all supporting documentation; if the allegation involves an examination, the student has the right to consult the exam in question at the faculty, in a diligent manner.

b) provides a copy of the present regulation;

c) informs the student of his/her eligibility for either the accelerated or the regular process;

d) The student has five (5) working days to provide a response. A student who fails to respond within this timeline is deemed to have consented to the regular process which will automatically start on the 6th day.

Accelerated process

10. A student alleged to have committed academic fraud is eligible for the accelerated process except in allegations involving:

a) a repeat offence;

b) an allegation serious enough to merit any of the sanctions indicated in sections 2(h) to 2 (m);

c) more than one student;

d) comprehensive exams, thesis proposals, major research papers or theses.

By agreeing to the accelerated process, the student acknowledges having contravened the academic regulations and accepts that one or more sanctions will be imposed.

11. A meeting is arranged between the person in charge of handling the accelerated process for academic fraud cases and the student within five (5) working days. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the situation, determine the sanction(s) to be imposed and sign an agreement whereby the student acknowledges having committed a contravention, of the academic regulation and accepts the imposed sanction(s) listed.  Sanctions possible are those indicated in sections 2(a) to 2(g) or any other sanction considered appropriate for the circumstances.

At this meeting, the student has the right to be accompanied by a person of their choice. The person accompanying the student is there to provide support and can, therefore, assist the student during the meeting keeping in mind that the exchange is, first and foremost, between the faculty and the student. The person in charge of handling the accelerated process for cases of academic fraud can also be accompanied during the meeting. Each party must provide the other party with the name of any accompanying person at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled meeting.

The student has two (2) working days after the meeting to sign and return the agreement to the person responsible for the accelerated process.

12. Within five (5) working days, the person in charge of the accelerated process forwards the decision reached during the accelerated process along with details of the sanction(s) imposed to the professor of the course in which the allegation of fraud was made and to the director of the academic unit involved.

13. The accelerated process for an allegation of academic fraud should be completed within seventeen (17) working days of the date the allegation is communicated to the student.

14. The student can decide to stop the accelerated process at any time prior to signing an agreement, by notifying the person in charge of the accelerated process in writing. In such an event, the regular process is followed. The student who sends a notification to stop the accelerated process will be deemed to have consented to the regular process which will automatically start that same day.

15. The person in charge of the accelerated process can also end the process if it is unlikely an agreement can be reached, for example in the following situations:

    * The student does not reply to emails or return phone calls or tries to unduly prolong the process.
    * The student refuses to acknowledge having committed academic fraud.
    * The student refuses to accept the sanction.
    * The student does not attend the meeting.

The person in charge of the accelerated process will notify the student in writing. This notification will immediately launch the start of the regular process.

16. If the regular process is subsequently initiated:

    * All information disclosed by a student during the accelerated process is considered confidential and is not to be disclosed during the regular process.
    * The fact that the accelerated process was used or that the student had considered it cannot be disclosed to the inquiry committee established under the regular process.
    * No person (other than the student) involved in the accelerated process can be a member of the inquiry committee established under the regular process, unless the student has agreed.

Regular process

17.1 For fraud allegations not involving doctoral theses, within five (5) working days of receiving the student’s reply, or on the 6th day after the allegation is communicated to the student or on the day the accelerated process is stopped, the dean or the dean’s representative forwards the file to an inquiry committee composed of at least three individuals, appointed by the dean. The dean or the dean’s representative is not eligible to sit on the committee. 

In a case involving a student in a program offered by more than one faculty (e.g., joint, integrated), the dean or the dean’s representative can ask a representative of the faculty or faculties in question to sit on the committee.

In a case involving a student from another faculty, the dean or the dean’s representative can ask a representative from the other faculty to sit on the committee.

In a case involving more than one student registered in a course offered by more than one faculty, including courses offered at both undergraduate and graduate level (cross-listed courses), the deans or their representatives will strike a joint inquiry committee.

17.2 For fraud allegations involving doctoral theses, the inquiry committee is formed and chaired by the Vice-Provost of graduate and postdoctoral studies. The Committee consists of four members, including the Vice-Dean of graduate studies of the faculty where the student is registered. In cases of potential research misconduct, the director of the Office of Research Ethics and Integrity will be notified.

18. The inquiry committee:

a) asks the student to submit in writing, within ten (10) working days, all information and documents relevant to the allegation

b) requests any other information it considers relevant.

c) invites the student to appear before the committee at its next scheduled meeting

The student can be accompanied by a person of their choice when appearing before the committee. The person accompanying the student is there to provide support and can, therefore, assist the student during the meeting, keeping in mind that the exchange is, first and foremost, between the faculty and the student.

In cases of alleged fraud involving more than one student, the accompanying person cannot be one of the other students involved in the case.

A student who fails to appear before the committee at the identified time and place is deemed to have forfeited his or her right to be heard at this meeting.

19. Once the student has been given the opportunity to be heard in writing and/or in person, the inquiry committee can conclude that the allegation is not sufficiently founded, in which case no further action is to be taken or that the allegation is founded, in which case it has five (5) working days from the date of the meeting to submit a report to the dean or the dean’s representative, including a recommendation for the appropriate sanction(s).

20. Within five (5) working days of receiving the inquiry committee’s report, the dean or the dean’s representative sends a copy of the report to the student. The dean informs the student that the student has the right to submit written comments to the committee’s report, particularly with respect to any sanctions being imposed, within ten (10) working days of having received the committee’s report.

Any new evidence provided by the student should be submitted to the inquiry committee. The inquiry committee will revise and resubmit its report, if necessary, within five (5) working days from the date it receives the new evidence.

21. The committee’s final report and, if applicable, the student’s written comments are submitted to the faculty’s executive committee (or its equivalent) at its next scheduled meeting. The executive committee makes a decision on the sanction(s) (in the case of sanctions that can be imposed by the faculty) or recommends sanction(s) to the Senate Appeals Committee (in the case of sanctions that can be imposed by the Senate Appeals Committee). Sanctions possible are those indicated in sections 2(a) to 2(m) or any other sanction considered appropriate for the circumstances.

22. In the case of sanctions that can be imposed by the faculty, the decision of the faculty’s executive committee, or equivalent, takes effect immediately, notwithstanding an appeal.

23. Within five (5) working days following the decision of the faculty’s executive committee, the dean or the dean’s representative informs the student in writing of the executive committee’s decision or recommendation and provides details of the appeal procedure.

Appeal

Accelerated process

24. A student wishing to file an appeal after having signed the agreement must submit the appeal to the Senate Appeals Committee within ten (10) working days of having signed the agreement. Under the accelerated process, an appeal can be launched only in cases of procedural error.

Regular process

25. A student who decides to appeal the decision of faculty’s executive committee (or its equivalent) or its recommendation to the Senate Appeals Committee, must inform the Office of the Secretary-General and provide the reasons for the appeal in writing, within ten (10) working days of being notified of the executive committee’s decision or recommendation.

The Senate Appeals Committee procedure is posted here.

The decision of the Senate Appeals Committee is final and cannot be appealed.

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